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Breastfeeding Myth-Busting

Breastfeeding Myth Busting. Manual pump in foreground.
Breastfeeding Myth Busting. Mama breastfeeding baby.

Breastfeeding Myth-Busting

Bringing a tiny human into this world, protecting them and feeding them is scary enough without being overwhelmed with the myriad of breastfeeding myths that manage to resurface over and over. You have enough to manage without second guessing how you’re feeling just because a complete stranger in the coffeeshop has opinions on your choices. The Mama Bear Club is here to help with some good old-fashioned myth-busting of some common misconceptions around breastfeeding that can lead to stress, frustration, and a reduction in milk supply.

1) Breastfeeding Myth: It Won’t Hurt.

It shouldn’t hurt and it doesn’t have to… but most Mamas out there do experience some discomfort when breastfeeding. This discomfort can range from slight irritation to full on bleeding nipples and searing pain. You are not a failure if it hurts! Pain means that your baby’s latch probably needs some work. 99% of the time it is fixable. It also can take time for your nipples to get used to the actual feel of breastfeeding. There are many awesome resources out there that focus on what a correct latch looks, feels, and sounds like (yup that’s right, a correct latch often has a specific sound).

If troubleshooting on your own doesn’t fix the issue quickly (within 2-3 days the pain should reduce significantly), don’t hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant. They are fantastic at their jobs, can often fix latch issues in just one visit and are well-versed in the plethora of breastfeeding myths out there. Whatever you do, don’t hide your pain just because you’ve been told it won’t hurt or think it shouldn’t. Ultimately, the result could be a reduced milk supply or even a damaged breastfeeding relationship. Make sure to let your midwife, doctor, or support person know if you’re feeling discomfort so you can find a solution that works for both you and your baby.

Reality: There are times when it will hurt – if it does: Fix. The. Latch.

2) Breastfeeding Myth: It Will Feel Completely Natural

The way the media, your mom/aunt/sisters, and the ladies in the coffee shop talk, breastfeeding sounds like a magical bonding act that you and your baby will instinctively know how to do. New moms often believe breastfeeding will make you feel like a divine being full of light and grace. For some women, it can be like that. For most of us mortals though, the first couple weeks (or months!) of breastfeeding can involve pumps, feeding syringes or tubes, cluster feeding, engorged and/or painful breasts, breasts that shoot milk clear across the room, clogged ducts, mastitis, and a huge variety of other things that decidedly don’t make you feel like a Goddess.

Yes, eventually you will get into a rhythm, figure out what works best for you and your baby (or babies), and maybe even feel comfortable whipping out your breasts every couple hours but there is often a settling in period. Suddenly being completely responsible for feeding a tiny human (who needs to eat so, so, much) is a lot. It will take some getting used to – so don’t beat yourself up if it all feels a bit weird. Stressing over how you’re ‘supposed’ to feel instead of embracing how you do feel is a waste of time and energy that would be much better spent cuddling, sleeping, eating or showering.

Reality: It will probably feel weird at first and that’s okay!

3) Myth: Guinness Will Help Your Milk Supply

This breastfeeding myth is actually born of a very clever ad campaign on the part of Guinness! In reality, limited research has shown that barley hops, like those found in Guinness, can aid prolactin production, which helps with milk production… however alcohol has been strongly linked to a decrease in milk production, so any benefits are quickly trampled all over.

If you want to increase your milk production through your diet, there are other options that are fully beneficial, or at least won’t harm your milk supply! These foods/herbs/teas are known as galactagogues and include powerhouses like oatmeal (or oat milk), fenugreek (normally drank in a tea), fennel seeds (which make a lovely mouth freshener too), and products like lactation cookies or lactation teas. Diet can help your milk production, but remember – the very best way to increase milk production is to feed or pump frequently, drink lots of water, get as much rest as you can, and keep your stress levels low.

Reality: Hops might help but alcohol won’t.

4) Myth: Breastfeeding = Birth Control

Breastfeeding often delays the return of your period but not always. Sometimes your period can return as early as five weeks after you give birth, even while breastfeeding (because life just isn’t fair). Ovulation occurs before you have your period, so even if your period hasn’t returned while breastfeeding after birth, you could very well get pregnant again! Some breastfeeding women don’t even realize they’re pregnant again for a couple months as their period just never comes back. This happens more often than you would think, so if you plan on having sex and aren’t ready to get pregnant again right away, make sure to use some type of contraceptive!

Reality: Nope. Not even a little bit.

Mama breastfeeding twins. Breastfeeding Myth Busting

5) Myth: Breastfeeding Will Make You Lose Weight

I wish this one were true! While technically it should be true because making breast milk burns calories, I’ve yet to meet a Mama who managed to keep her diet the same (calorie-wise) post-baby and who lost weight through breastfeeding alone. Breastfeeding makes most women hungry all the time, because you’re making milk all the time. Women who never ate breakfast pre-baby wake up starving and a snack after every middle of the night feed feels like a reward you definitely deserve.

This myth feels particularly harmful because pregnancy and birth cause our bodies to change so dramatically that the promise of assisted weight loss after birth makes those changes feel temporary and more manageable. Discovering you’re not losing any of that baby weight due to breastfeeding can contribute to postpartum depression and stress – both of which majorly impact milk production. The best way to combat this one is to a) accept that it is unlikely breastfeeding alone will help you get back to a pre-baby weight b) spend a little bit of time honouring the amazing things your body did to grow and give birth to that beautiful baby, and c) eat healthy, nutritious food that will nourish both you and your babe.

Reality: Not unless you can stick to strict calorie counting (which is not recommended while breastfeeding).

6) Myth: If the milk doesn’t come immediately, switch to formula.

While for some new moms, breast milk comes in strong and fast, other moms need some help getting the milk flowing. It’s actually very common! If your milk supply doesn’t come in immediately, don’t give up and don’t panic! Using a breast pump (like the Mya Joy) between feedings will stimulate your body to make more milk and is a proven way to increase milk production (it can also help relieve pressure if you’re an over-producing Mama). If your baby was born early and is struggling to suck, pumping milk regularly and feeding with a syringe is a great way to ensure your baby is getting your milk, gaining weight and growing stronger while helping your body get into the rhythm of regular feedings.

Reality: With a little help, most Mamas can get the milk flowing.

You’re probably going to get a lot of advice, most of it unsolicited, and most of it unhelpful throughout your parenthood journey. Knowing how to spot when something feels off or untrue is a key skill to learn as soon as possible, and breastfeeding myths. Above all, remember that every journey in breastfeeding and parenthood is different and trying to compare them will always lead to feelings of confusion and/or disappointment. Trust your instincts, feel empowered to ask questions and, above all, ask for help when you need it.

Take care of yourselves Mamas! If you haven’t yet, be sure to join our community of awesome Mamas online at Mama Bear Club on Facebook or follow us on Mama Bear Club on Instagram.

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How a Feeding Schedule Develops

how a feeding schedule develops
how a feeding schedule develops

Watch Your Baby, Not the Clock: How a Feeding Schedule Develops

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but every baby is different. That means every baby will have a different feeding schedule. Unfortunately, they don’t come with a personalized feeding schedule pre-programmed either. It’s something the two of you will develop during the learning period of the first four to six weeks. During this time your body builds up its milk supply and you learn your baby’s hunger cues.

What to Look for Instead of at the Clock

The Public Health Agency of Canada recently released guidelines to help breastfeeding mothers. One of their recommendations is instead of timing feeds by the clock, look for signs from your baby. Many people think crying is a sign, it is, but crying happens after they have given the other signs and are now upset. Often, you’ll need to calm the baby down before it is ready to feed. Some of the things you should be looking for are: 

• Rooting 

• Licking lips

• Putting hands to mouth

Babies need to eat often at the beginning. It may be as much as every 1 to 3 hours, or eight or more times in 24 hours, night or day. This helps your body increase its milk supply, help your baby gain back any weight they might have lost in the first few days and it also gives your baby practice at sucking and swallowing.

Night Feedings

Night feedings are important. Just because it’s nighttime doesn’t mean your baby stops being hungry! At night some babies may prefer many short feeds while others will like fewer, longer feeds. Don’t rush your baby, it won’t help; just try and take your time. Your baby should appear content and drowsy after a feeding when they’ve had enough.

As they get older the feedings will start to be longer and the time between the feedings will grow. From about six months on, your baby’s feeding patterns will change as they start to try solid foods. If your baby becomes less interested in breastfeeding after they’ve started to eat solids, try starting with breastfeeding then give them solids. Even when they’ve started eating solid food, breastfeeding is still their most important source of nutrition.

Check back with us for all sorts of information, tips, and products to help with all stages of the pregnancy and baby journey! Follow Mama Bear Club on Facebook and Instagram or visit our website for the latest news!

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How to Breastfeed Your Baby: The Basics

How to breastfeed your baby
How to breastfeed your baby

How to Breastfeed Your Baby: The Basics

Feeding your baby may be a natural process but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Many mothers struggle when first trying to get their baby to breastfeed, so if you are having difficulties remember you are not alone. The Public Health Agency of Canada has just released some tips for mothers to help them with breastfeeding, read on for an overview!

Newborn Anatomy

It’s helpful to know that newborns have very small stomachs, which can’t hold a lot of milk. This is why the first milk your breasts make is called colostrum, which is a very concentrated form of breastmilk. The small stomach size is also why your baby wants to feed so often at the beginning.

Reading Your Newborn

It helps to learn the cues your baby gives when they want to feed. Most parents don’t know at the beginning that crying is a late-stage cue and the baby will usually need to be calmed down before feeding. Some of the signs to look for are: 

  • The rooting reflex: your baby will turn their heads and open their mouths in search of food when they are touched on the mouth or cheek.
  • Putting their hands to their mouth: when a baby’s hands are free, they can more easily show that they are hungry.
  • Smacking, sucking or licking of lips.

Comfort for Both of You

To make breastfeeding more comfortable and easier for both of you, pay attention to how you position yourself. Try sitting or lying comfortably with pillows for support. There are many breastfeeding positions so try a few until you find one that works better for you. If you’ve had a C-section you may need some help at the beginning to get into a comfortable position. You’ll want to relax your shoulders and bring the baby to the breast as opposed to bringing the breast to the baby.

Proper Positioning

Bring your baby close to you and hold them tummy to tummy with their nose to the nipple and their chin to the breast with their bottom tucked in close to your body. Always support the baby’s head and neck firmly but don’t push the back of their head toward the breast, this can cause them to push away. When you rest your baby’s chin on your breast keep their nose to the nipple until your baby’s mouth opens big, like a yawn. They should then move their head back and take a big mouthful of the breast. You can also try touching your baby’s mouth with your nipple until their mouth opens wide. It can help if you hand express some milk and leave a few drops on the nipple to get your baby’s attention.

Finishing Up

While your baby is feeding, both of their lips should be rolled outwards rather than tucked tightly inwards. This means they’ll have a good seal on the nipple. The sucking will feel gentle at first but then get stronger. Your baby should establish a rhythm of one or two sucks than a swallow, then a pause to rest. When your baby stops feeding or comes off your breast, burp them before you switch to the other breast. If you need to take your baby off the breast, carefully place a finger in the corner of their mouth until you break the suction.

These tips can help you have a more successful first try with your newborn. When it goes well early on it can be a big confidence booster! But even if you’re still struggling, don’t give up hope. With experience both you and your baby can learn how to make nursing work.

For more information on breastfeeding, head to our website for all the tips and tricks you’ll need to know about feeding your newborn!

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Better Nursing Pads, Better Results

Better Nursing Pads, Better Results

Breastfeeding can be complicated; especially if you’re a new mother. There are a few things you may not know, like the fact that your breasts can leak. And yes, this is as messy as it sounds. This can happen anytime, usually from the third trimester on, but there are ways to manage it and Ameda has some great reusable nursing pads to help you out. 

Having wet patches isn’t good for your clothes but it’s even worse for your skin. Constant moisture against your skin can cause irritation or infection which isn’t helpful when you are constantly breastfeeding or pumping. Nursing pads are used inside your bra to catch the leaks and should be changed a few times a day. 

Why Breasts Leak 

Breasts leak because of the let-down reflex which is a normal part of breastfeeding. It’s what makes the breastmilk flow. When your baby sucks at your breast small nerves are stimulated and cause two hormones to be released into your bloodstream. These hormones are prolactin and oxytocin; the prolactin helps make the milk and the oxytocin causes the breast to push out the milk. Some women can feel it when let-down happens and some don’t feel anything at all. 

Until your breasts become familiar with the practice of releasing milk at exactly the right time, let-down and leaks can occur at any time. Let-down has both emotional and physical triggers. Hearing a baby cry (even if it’s not yours), seeing a baby picture, while your sleeping or when you’re talking about your baby; it can happen at any time. So it’s good to keep that in mind as you plan your day.  

Ameda Reusable Nursing Pads

Good for the environment, even better for mom. The super-absorbent Ameda Contoured Washable Nursing Pads help prevent wet stains on clothing and feature a unique, contoured shape for a discreet appearance.  

These machine washable, reusable nursing pads have three separate layers that work together to comfortably wick moisture away from the skin and maximize leakage protection. The water-resistant outer layer keeps clothing dry while the microfiber middle layer wicks moisture away. And the third layer is a soft and cozy inner terrycloth for extra comfort next to the nipple. 

The Ameda Contoured Washable Nursing Pads are shaped for a discreet and comfortable fit. And the 8 and 20 packs come with a mesh laundry bag so you don’t have to play hide and seek in a giant pile of laundry to find them. 

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The Joeyband – Reviewed by Moms

The Joeyband – Reviewed by Moms 

The Joeyband is an excellent tool to help mommy and baby get the all-important skin time, right from the beginning. Skin-to-skin contact has been shown to improve infant development, improve breastfeeding, help with temperature regulation, and encourages bonding. Skin-to-skin isn’t just for the mother but can help to bond with the other parent too! 

The Gugu Guru Guide, a popular mommy blog had members of the Gugu Guru Village test the Joeyband and these are their thoughts. And if you are looking to get your own Joeyband check out Motherschoice.ca

The Joeyband Bond 

This Joeyband is great to bring along to the hospital for immediate skin-to-skin postpartum. It is easy to put on and really helps you feel more secure in holding your baby – especially when you’re fatigued after a long labor and/or still feeling the effects of anesthesia. We tried the Joeyband with our newborn and were impressed with how quickly it calmed him down! We even caught a few smiles in a row while our son was dozing. It was a good reminder to keep up the skin-to-skin time. The fabric feels a little bit like swimsuit material and is really stretchy, so both my husband and I could use the same size. My husband loved the Joeyband even more than I did – I think it helps him feel that special bond that a lot of mothers feel through the nursing relationship. I anticipate my husband will be using this product a lot before parental leave is over. I was happy to learn that there are even more uses for Joeyband as our little guy grows up. We have a plane trip next month and I’m going to use it to help keep our son more secure and calm as a lap child. Thanks to Gugu Guru for giving me the opportunity to test the Joeyband. 

–Alyssa J. 

Skin-to-skin Immediately 

The importance of skin to skin for newborns after they are born has long been established. But the benefits extend beyond just the hospital stay – it’s actually recommended for the first 3-4 months, or until the baby becomes to squirmy. And babies aren’t the only ones who benefit from skin to skin. 

Skin to skin is often delayed after a c-section, due to the risk of infant falls. The Joeyband allows for immediate skin to skin for mom and baby because it reduces that risk. It keeps the baby safe and secure against mom’s chest so that this important bonding can start immediately. This way both mom and baby can reap the benefits of skin to skin during the repair and transport process. 

The Joeyband can also be used for kangaroo care in the NICU, where skin to skin is critical for preemie babies. Sometimes it’s all a mom can do if the baby is too small or unable to breastfeed. It can also be used by dads! Since NICU babies are often hooked up to tubes and wires, the Joeyband helps prevent these from being disturbed. It’s appropriate for twins and micro-preemies, too. And in the event of an emergency, the babies can quickly be assessed because there are no hooks or buttons, just a few rows of Velcro. 

I was fortunate to have a full-term baby with no complications but still found the Joeyband to be useful both in the hospital and even now that we are at home. It allowed me to maximize my skin to skin time in the hospital and aided in breastfeeding because it supported my baby without the need for a bulky pillow. This took some of the strain off my back and neck. When I wasn’t using it to hold my daughter, I used it as a belly band to support my newly postpartum belly. 

The Joeyband is soft and comfortable to wear. I was able to put it on and take it off unassisted because it secures easily with Velcro. Once it’s in place, you hardly notice that it’s there. I definitely recommend the Joeyband for all new parents. 

The Joeyband has been such an essential part of my daily routine. I love using this when I need to have a free hand to work on something while sitting. It is so comfortable and easy to put on and remove.  The gentle squeeze it gives to baby while I’m wearing her gives her security while being skin to skin. Our bond has grown stronger while having the opportunity to stay so close more often through the day! 

–Valerie T.  

The Joeyband and Acid Reflux 

I enjoyed testing the Joeyband product, and as a mom who had a c-section, I can see the great benefit it provides. My son has reflux so in addition to taking Zantac he also prefers to sleep upright on someone’s chest. The Joeyband helped me to be somewhat hands-free on the couch and allowed us to enjoy the baby snuggles. Overall a good product for what it was designed for! 

–Katherine H. 

Joeyband

Use Your Hands 

I have been using the Joeyband for about two weeks. It was very easy to use and made skin-to-skin time with my little one much more enjoyable. It gave me the freedom to use my hands, especially during my meal times, which a lot of new moms know can be a challenge 🙂. The band is thick and stretchy and my little one enjoyed the swaddle-like feeling the band gave him as he would quickly fall asleep. I liked that I didn’t have to worry about him rolling or sliding off of me. The Joeyband is a great product and I would recommend it to any new mom! 

–Taylor S. 

These reviews were sourced from the Gugu guide’s Village Reviews at https://blog.guguguru.com/the-village-reviews-joeyband/ 

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WHY BREASTFEEDING IS IMPORTANT

WHY BREASTFEEDING IS IMPORTANT

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Benefits Of Breastfeeding

Benefits Of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding offers a number of health and financial benefits. If you decide to breastfeed, you and your family will enjoy many positive aspects that result from this choice. Take a moment to learn about these fascinating health benefits and imagine how they might affect you and your family if you decide to breastfeed.

Health Benefits of Breastfeeding

The health benefits of breastfeeding for an infant are due to the beneficial substances that are present in human breast milk but lacking in formula. There are also health benefits for mothers.

Breastfeeding Benefits for Mothers

Studies suggest that mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop:

  • Breast or ovarian cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Postpartum depression1,2

Benefits of Breast Milk for Full-Term Infants

Studies suggest that full-term infants who breastfeed or who are fed breast milk are at reduced risk for1,2:

  • Lower respiratory tract infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
  • Asthma
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Otitis media
  • Colds, ear and throat infections
  • Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)
  • GI tract infections
  • Celiac disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Atopic dermatitis, eczema
  • Higher Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Type I and II Diabetes
  • Leukemia: ALL, AML

Benefits of Breast Milk for Preterm Infants

Studies suggest that preterm infants who receive their mother’s breast milk receive numerous immediate and long-term benefits.

Immediate Breastfeeding Benefits include1,2:
  • Decreased rate of sepsis
  • Decreased rates of Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)
  • Fewer hospital re-admissions within one year of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) discharge
  • Improved clinical feeding tolerance and attainment of full enteral feeds
  • Decreased severe retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)
Long-Term Breastfeeding Benefits include1,2:
  • Improved neurodevelopmental outcomes
  • Decreased metabolic syndrome
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
  • Increased leptin and insulin metabolism

Learn More

Learn more about the key health benefits of breastfeeding for moms and babies by watching this short video, The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Moms & Babies.

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Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding

In addition to health benefits, breastfeeding provides significant economic benefits to both individual households and the healthcare system at large.

Total US Savings

A detailed pediatric cost analysis based on a report prepared by the US Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) concluded that if 90% of US mothers breastfed for six months, there would be a savings of $13 billion per year.3

Savings Per Infant

Babies who are breastfed for six months provide an estimated healthcare cost savings of $3,172 per infant.3

Pre-Term Infant

Preterm infants who receive breast milk for more than 50% of their feedings in the first 14 days of life have a six-fold decrease in developing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). This can decrease cost and length of a hospital stay, saving $74,000 per case, 12 additional days for medical NEC, and $198,000 for 43 additional days per case of surgical NEC.4, 5

References

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics. 2012;129(3): e827-841. Available at pediatrics.org/cgi/doi/10.1542/peds.2011-3552
  2. Ip S, Chung M, Raman G, Trikalinos TA, Lau J. A summary of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s evidence report on breastfeeding in developed countries. Breastfeed Med, 2009;4(SI ):S 17-30
  3. Bartick M, Reinhold A. The burden of suboptimal breastfeeding in the United States: a pediatric cost analysis.  Pediatrics. 2010; 125(5). Available at: www.pediatrics.org/cgi/conent/full/125/5/e1048, accessed 3/21/13.
  4. Sisk PM, Lovelady CA, Dillard RG, Gruber KJ, O’Shea TM. Early human milk feeding is associated with a lower risk of necrotizing enterocolitis in very low birth weight infants. J Perinatol. 2007;27:428-33.
  5. Ganapathy V, Hay JW, Kim JH. Costs of necrotizing enterocolitis and cost-effectiveness of exclusively human milk-based products in feeding extremely premature infants. Breastfeed Med. 2012;7(I):29-37.

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What Not To Eat When Breastfeeding

What Not To Eat When Breastfeeding

When breastfeeding or breast pumping, many mothers are curious about whether there are specific foods they should or should not eat. In truth, there are no foods that every breastfeeding mother must have, and there are no foods that all mothers must avoid. For example, in most cases, there is no need to steer clear of chocolate, spicy foods, onions, garlic, broccoli, or cabbage. A good rule of thumb to follow is “everything in moderation.” Here are some additional tips to consider when breastfeeding. These are general information tips and do constitute clinical advice.

Tip #1: Eat To Hunger

You do not need to eat more than usual to make enough milk, just “eat to hunger.” Extra calories do not seem to be as important as once thought. Your fat stores at your baby’s birth provide much of the fuel needed to make milk. Research has found that your metabolism may be more efficient while breastfeeding than at other times. This may reduce your need for extra calories. More active mothers will need more calories, but they will likely also feel hungrier too.

Tip #2: There Is No Ideal Diet Or Foods To Make Good Quality Milk Or To Make More Milk

Although eating well is good for you (it boosts your energy and resistance to illness), an ideal diet is not necessary to produce good quality milk. As pediatrician/neonatologist and breastfeeding expert Ruth Lawrence, MD, writes: “All over the world women produce adequate and even abundant milk on very inadequate diets.”* Studies have found that it takes famine conditions for several weeks before a mother’s milk is affected.

*Lawrence, Ruth A. et al. Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession 8th edition, Philadelphia 2016: Chapter 9, page 285.

From what we know, food is not related to increased milk production. Milk production is based on how many times each day your milk is drained well from your breasts. The more times you breastfeed or express your milk and the more drained your breasts are, the more milk you will make. For information on herbal and prescribed medicines that increase milk production, talk to your lactation consultant.

Tip #3: A Fussy Baby Is Likely Not Related To Something You’ve Eaten

Keep in mind that almost all babies have fussy periods, but your baby’s fussiness is probably unrelated to your diet. Besides fussiness, other signs in a baby are dry skin, congestion, bloody stool, rash, and wheezing. If you suspect a food is affecting your baby, try avoiding it (cow’s milk takes about two weeks to clear), then try eating it again. If your baby reacts, you’ll know to avoid that food for a few months (most babies will not react after about six to nine months of age). The most likely culprits are protein foods such as dairy, soy, egg white, peanuts, and fish. Only changing your diet will tell you for sure.

Tip #4: If You Choose To Diet During Breastfeeding, Approach Weight Loss Gradually

Dieting during breastfeeding may be the best time, as breastfeeding helps burn fat stores. But it’s best to go slowly and lose weight gradually. Any diet should include at least 1800 calories per day. As with other food products, artificial sweeteners are okay in moderation, one to two servings per day.

Tip #5: If You’re Vegetarian or Vegan, Ensure You’re Getting Enough Vitamin B12 

As a vegetarian, you need to either eat foods that have vitamin B12 (such as eggs or dairy), eat foods with vitamin B12 added, or take supplements. If you are on a vegan or macrobiotic diet or any other diet that does not include animal products, be sure to get enough B12.

Tip #6: Drink To Thirst

Research has not yet found a link between the fluids a mother drinks and her milk production. The simple guideline is to drink to thirst. To make it easy to get a drink when thirsty, keep a container of water where you usually breastfeed. A sign that you may need to drink more fluids is if your urine is dark yellow instead of a light, straw color.

Tip #7: Caffeine In Moderation

As with all parts of your diet, think moderation. One or two cups of coffee (or other caffeinated drinks such as teas or colas) are not likely to cause a reaction. Unless a baby is unusually sensitive, there is no need to avoid caffeine completely.

Tip #8: An Occasional Glass of Beer or Wine Has Not Been Found To Be Harmful. Stronger Drinks or More Alcohol Take Longer to Leave Your Milk

You can have an occasional glass of beer or wine while breastfeeding; a little alcohol in the milk now and then has not been found to be harmful. However, moderate to heavy drinking is risky for your baby.

Mothers who want to avoid any alcohol in their milk can have their drink right after nursing. Research shows that alcohol passes quickly into a mother’s milk, peaking within 30 to 60 minutes (60 to 90 minutes when taken with food). But it also passes out of milk quickly. For a 120-pound woman, it takes 2 to 3 hours for the alcohol in one glass of beer or wine to leave her milk. And there is no need to pump to make your milk alcohol-free. As blood alcohol levels drop, alcohol leaves the milk. If a breastfeeding mother has a stronger drink or more than one glass of beer or wine, it will take much longer for the alcohol to leave her milk.

This is general information and does not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you have a problem you cannot solve quickly, seek help right away. Every baby is different. If in doubt, contact your physician or other healthcare provider.

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Dads, Partners, And Breastfeeding

Dads, Partners, And Breastfeeding

Dads and partners have a role in breastfeeding, too. The first few months after birth can be both exciting and overwhelming, and new families need lots of support.

Supporting Your Baby’s Mom

There are a lot of tips for new fathers/partners to keep in mind as their family grows.

  • Arrange for help. In some cultures, the early weeks are seen as special. Mothers are kept apart from others so they can focus on the baby. All chores are done for them. After this time, the mother receives public praise for a job well done. In these cultures, fewer moms get the “baby blues.” The more you can help out during the first few months, the better.
  • Learn about breastfeeding and pumping. It’s easy to support your partner when you believe in what she’s doing. Attend a prenatal breastfeeding course. Educate yourself on the benefits of breast milk and the risks of not feeding breast milk.
  • Watch and learn. Your partner will need help in learning to breastfeed and pump. Learn from the people who help her. Ask questions.
  • Talk to other fathers. Listen to their experiences with breastfeeding. It’s also helpful to share your thoughts and feelings—you need support, too!
  • Limit visitors. Include those who are supportive and helpful. This is the time for you and your partner to learn how to care for your baby. Keep visits short or ask visitors to help clean and cook while you tend to your baby and get some rest.
  • Get help. There are many support people available for hire that can help you with household chores and/or basic breastfeeding support in your home.
  • Know who to call with breastfeeding and pumping questions. Find out if your hospital has a breastfeeding helpline or support group. There may be mom-to-mom support groups available locally, or, find a local expert such as a lactation consultant.

Getting Close with Your Baby

Babies love to be touched. You can get close in many ways other than feeding.

  • Spend time with your baby. Put your baby on your bare chest. Babies love to feel your skin against theirs. Give them a massage.
  • Give your baby a bath. This can be a fun time for both of you!
  • Bring your baby to your partner for feedings. This includes during the day and at night.
  • Feed your baby. If your baby was born preterm, with special needs, or if your partner decides to exclusively pump, bond with your baby by giving a bottle.
  • Cuddle and walk. Movement can help during fussy times; it calms babies.
  • Talk and sing to your baby. This is how babies learn to talk.
  • Change your baby’s diaper. Another benefit of breastfeeding: when your baby is fully breastfed, diapers don’t smell bad!
  • Hold your baby. Give your partner time to take a shower or eat a meal.
  • Play with your baby. Moms and dads play in their own ways. This is how babies learn, and it can be fun for both of you.

Helping Your Partner Breastfeed & Pump

There are many ways you can support your partner with breastfeeding and pumping.

  • Learn your baby’s hunger cues. Early hunger cues include: sucking sounds, moving around, tongue and hand-to-mouth movements. If you see these, bring your baby to your partner to breastfeed or bottle-feed the baby while she pumps.
  • Help her get comfortable. If she’s feeding from the breast, be sure she has enough pillows to support the baby, her arms, and her back. For some positions, she may need your extra hands to get the baby just right. Remind her to take a deep breath and relax her shoulders and body once the baby is latched.
  • Help her stay hydrated and nourished. Bring her a drink and healthy snack while she is breastfeeding or pumping.
  • Help after a feeding. Offer to burp and change your baby’s diaper.
  • Encourage her to nap at least once a day. Producing breast milk is hard work and sleep is a necessary ingredient. A little extra sleep can make a big difference!
  • Praise her. Tell her you are proud of her and that she is a wonderful mother.

Breastfeeding & Sex

After your baby is born, your partner will need time for her body to recover. Once she has had her six-week postpartum check-up, she may be physically and emotionally ready to start having sex again. It is important for you to discuss your feelings and readiness with each other. Remember:

  • Some mothers may have less desire for sex due to fear of pain or pregnancy, because they’re overwhelmed by physical demands of breastfeeding or pumping, or simply because they’re tired.
  • Many mothers have vaginal dryness due to hormone changes while breastfeeding. Using a lubricant can make sex more enjoyable and less painful during this time.
  • During sex, your partner may have an orgasm that causes the hormone oxytocin to be released, which is the same hormone that causes milk to be released from the breasts. So, you may get a little wet! This will happen less if your partner breastfeeds before having sex.

It’s important to note that your partner can get pregnant even if she is breastfeeding. Use birth control if you want to decrease your chances of pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider for more information.

The Active Role You Play

Most importantly, enjoy your new role by actively participating in baby care and parenting. When moms and dad/partners work together to care for their baby, you will both feel supported and satisfied.

This is general information and does not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you have a problem you cannot solve quickly, seek help right away. Every baby is different. If in doubt, contact your physician or healthcare provider.

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Feeding

How Do Breasts Make Milk? The Physiology Of Breastfeeding

How Do Breasts Make Milk? The Physiology Of Breastfeeding

A woman’s breasts start getting ready to make milk when she becomes pregnant. Breast changes are caused by four main hormones. These hormones cause the ducts and glandular tissue (alveoli) to grow and increase in size. Your breasts start to make the first milk, colostrum, in the second trimester. Colostrum is thick and clear to yellow in color. Once your baby and the placenta are delivered, your body starts to make more milk. Over the next few days, the amount of milk your breasts make will increase and the colour will change to appear more watery and white.

Hormones of Lactation

The complex physiology of breastfeeding includes a delicate balance of hormones. There are four hormones that help your breasts make milk: estrogen, progesterone, prolactin and oxytocin. Your body naturally knows how to adjust the level of these hormones to help your breasts make milk, as seen in the drawing.

Hormone Levels of Lactation

Estrogen & Progesterone

Estrogen and progesterone prepare your breasts to make milk. These hormones are released by the placenta during pregnancy. They have two major roles. They increase the size and number of milk ducts in your breasts. They also keep your body from making large amounts of breast milk until after your baby is born. Once your baby is born and the placenta is delivered, these hormones decrease. This decrease signals your body that it is time to make milk.

Prolactin

Prolactin helps your breasts make milk. After the birth of your baby, prolactin levels increase. Every time you breastfeed or pump, your body releases prolactin. With each release, your body makes and stores more milk in the breast alveoli. If the level of this hormone gets too low, your milk supply will decrease. This is why it is important to breastfeed or pump right after delivery and then at regular time frames.

Oxytocin

Oxytocin releases milk from your breasts. When your baby (or breast pump) begins to suck and draw your nipple into her mouth, this hormone is released. This release causes milk to be squeezed out of the alveoli, into the ducts and out of your nipple, into your baby’s mouth. This process is called letdown or milk ejection reflex (MER).

Milk Ejection Reflex

This is general information and does not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you have a problem you cannot solve quickly, seek help right away. Every baby is different. If in doubt, contact your physician or healthcare provider.